Around this time of year, I tend to increase my CD collection on account of Jesus' birthday celebration and the concomitant reception of CDs and Best Buy gift cards. Here are the CDs I've acquired over the past month or so, in no particular order:
Sweet - Best of Sweet. 4 Handrews.*
In case you're unfamiliar with Sweet (or "the Sweet," if you're British), they were a British glam band in the '70s, who influenced many hair bands (listen to Mötley Crüe's debut album, Too Fast for Love, and the admitted Sweet influence on Nikki Sixx comes through pretty clearly on several tracks). "Ballroom Blitz" is Sweet's biggest hit, and an all-around awesome song. You may also know "Fox on the Run," which was featured in Dazed and Confused right after Hirschfelder throws the beer bottle in the air when he, Carl, and that other dude are walking down the street after Hirschfelder got whooped. Somewhere Mitch Kramer is touching his nose. And by "somewhere," I mean outside the Emporium. "Action" is a great song, which Def Leppard open many of their shows with (and which they covered on 1993's RetroActive). "Teenage Rampage" is another solid song. All in all, good '70s glam. My only beef with the particular album I bought is that it doesn't have "Hellraiser" on it (which Def Leppard covered on 2006's Yeah! with the help of Justin Hawkins from The Darkness). You know I love falsettos.
AC/DC - Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap. 3.5 Handrews.
This 1976 release was AC/DC's third studio album. I pretty much bought this album because I wanted the song "Big Balls." I've always loved that song, and particularly Bon Scott's tongue-in-cheek vocals/speaking. The title track is a delightful song about a hit man soliciting business. I also enjoy "Rocker" and "Ain't No Fun (Waiting Around to Be a Millionaire), as both songs hit home with precision."
Bon Jovi - New Jersey. 4 Handrews.
I had this on tape for Lord knows how long, and it's about damn time I got it on CD (and thus into the Hair Band Friday rotation). New Jersey, as I'm sure you know, was Bon Jovi's 1988 follow-up to Slippery When Wet. I still remember the first time I heard "Bad Medicine," as my mom and I were heading up to Alpine Valley on Friday September 9, 1988 for my first concert ever, George Michael. I won tickets from Z-95 and said "holy shit" on the air. I was 10. I was a golden god. Anyway, obviously "Bad Medicine" is a great song, and "I'll Be There for You" brings back great memories of the sock hop we had in 5th grade at Cossitt. Sixth graders and fifth graders arm-in-arm. It was beautiful. I'd have to say my favorite song on the album is "Lay Your Hands On Me," and "Born to Be My Baby" is pretty solid as well. I didn't understand "Living in Sin" until a couple years ago.
Mötley Crüe - Theatre of Pain. 3 Handrews.
This is the Crüe's third album, and probably the weakest of their "classic" albums (which I would consider Too Fast For Love through Dr. Feelgood), which, if you've read The Dirt (which you should -- NOW), you would know is the feeling of the band as well. The blockbuster on Theatre of Pain is the hard rock ballad that set the standard for hard rock ballads, "Home Sweet Home." The other hit off the album is their cover of Brownsville Station's "Smokin' in the Boys' Room." I also like "Use It or Lose It," which has a great fast-paced guitar riff and sounds like it could be on Too Fast For Love. Other than that, it's fairly uninspired compared to their other albums. But the cover does have a sweet frowning theatre mask with a pentagram on its forehead, crying blood.
Bruce Springsteen - Darkness on the Edge of Town. 4.5 Handrews.
Here's my problem with Springsteen albums: I always end up comparing them to Born to Run. I shouldn't do that, because this 1978 follow-up to Born to Run is pretty damn good. "Badlands" has always been one of my favorite Springsteen songs. "The Promised Land" and "Prove It All Night" are good. I also really like "Candy's Room." There is some anger in this album. I like that.
Michael Jackson - Thriller. 6 Handrews.
I'm ashamed to say that I've never owned this album before. Getting past that is difficult for me, as it should be for you. I don't really need to say anything about Thriller, since it is Thriller. This is the special edition, which contains some bonus tracks and some interviews with Quincy Jones and the like.
Extreme - 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Extreme. 3 Handrews.
You know Extreme as the group that brought you such ballads as "More Than Words" and "Hole Hearted." Unfortunately for them, that pegged them as "soft," which is never a good thing for a hard rock band (which Extreme was). Anyway, aside from those two songs, this CD is a decent recap of their relatively brief run. "Kid Ego" is good. I also like "Decadence Dance" and "Rest In Peace." After listening to the album, they don't sound as hair band-y as you might think (although I would consider them a hair band). I'm not sure exactly how to describe their sound, but it's a little funkier than hair band.
Ratt - Ratt and Roll 81-91. 4.5 Handrews.
I think Ratt is kind of underrated. They only scored one really big hit ("Round and Round," which is a great song), but I really like most of their stuff. It's a bit sleazy, but maybe that's what I like about it. Steven Pearcy had a great rock and roll voice. "I Want a Woman" is probably my favorite Ratt song. Other solid songs on this album are "Slip of the Lip," "Back for More," "You're in Love," "Lack of Communication," "Dance," and "Shame Shame Shame."
Traffic - 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Traffic. 4 Handrews.
I have their eponymous sophomore album on vinyl, which I've listened to anywhere between never and once. Nonetheless, they were a decent band -- led by Steve Winwood and Dave Mason -- with some songs that I like, so I figured I would get a greatest hits album. I've always enjoyed their version (the original) of "Feelin' Alright?" (the Joe Cocker cover is probably more famous). "Dear Mr. Fantasy" is another song I've always liked, and I always forget about "Pearly Queen." The other songs on the album are pretty good, too. With the adult contemporary shit that Winwood put out in the '80s ("Valerie" excluded, of course), you sometimes forget that he used to make decent music.
Van Halen - 1984. 5.5 Handrews.
This is another one I had on tape, but just finally got on CD. I remember listening to this album in my friend Sean Fitzgerald's house back in Spring, TX in '84. Jump kicks may have been involved. "Jump," "Hot for Teacher," and "Panama" are all classics. I am also a big fan of "Top Jimmy" and "Drop Dead Legs." Unfortunately, this would be the last album of the Diamond Dave era. Not that I don't like Van Hagar, but I definitely like the David Lee Roth era better.
*GMYH CD Review Scale:
-6 Handrews - Buy it now. NOW!!
-5 Handrews - Excellent album that you should seriously consider purchasing in the near future
-4 Handrews - Very good album that you should at least check out on iTunes
-3 Handrews - If you want it, download it illegally
-2 Handrews - Somewhere between Britney Spears and William Hung
-1 Handrew - Ashlee Simpson-0 Handrews - PopoZao